Schools across the state are starting to hire teachers for next school year, the first big hiring push since the state legislature passed that teacher raise. 

In Edmond, the first glimpse shows a turn-around in the number of applicants.

Edmond Public Schools held its first job fair Tuesday, February 27, for elementary teachers.  District officials say they saw a 31 percent increase in applicants.

“This certainly is the best turnout we’ve had in the last few years,” said Edmond Public Schools Chief Human Resources Officer Randy Decker.

As a result of the teacher pay raise passing last session, Edmond is now for the first time offering a starting teacher salary of $40,000 a year.

“I would hope that the increase in pay has drawn more people,” said Decker. “Yesterday, we had a number of people from out of state, so that certainly was a positive twist.” 

In addition, Decker says so far, they have fewer teachers retiring. Experienced teachers received the biggest raises - about $8,000 for those with 25+ years of experience. Still, Decker says it will likely take more to bring new teachers into the pipeline.

“I think you need to get the salary up a few more thousand to begin causing high school seniors to say, ‘you know, this is really what I want to do and what I want to be doing’,” said Decker.

Edmond will have another job fair for junior high and high school teachers Thursday, February 28.

Decker says overall the district will have to hire approximately 250 to 300 teachers. There were about 125 people in attendance at Tuesday’s job fair.

“I think principals shared with us the pool was really good, the candidates that they had,” said Decker.

Most other area schools News 9 checked with have not started hiring for next year yet.